The Jungle Book (2016)
Jungle Book is a well made remake that succeeds in delivering a slightly different story, capitalizing on state-of-the-art CGI and laudable performances to suit the whole family.
When I first watched the trailer, I had real goosebumps when I heard Bare Necessities playing in the background. The nostalgia and euphony of the tune urged me to see the film without a pounding heart. After nearly 5 months I can finally take a close look at this remake. I am a big fan of the 1967 version, which features one of the best sets of songs ever put to the big screen. This 2016 is somehow a much darker, serious film, with more scares and ponderous themes. Throughout most of the screen time, while marveling at the breathtaking scenery and astoundingly realistic CGI (breakthrough performance on the computer's part), I was occasionally bothered by how the plot and scripts deviated from what I expected, and the lack of warmth and humor I enjoyed when rewatching the 1967 musical. The third act is well done, nevertheless, and along with the incredible CGI so as Neel Sethi's extraordinary performance as Mowgli forming the backbone of this remake. Jungle Book is a well made remake that succeeds in delivering a slightly different story, capitalizing on state-of-the-art CGI to suit well for family audience. (Too scary and dark for a kids film, too generic for higher level audiences)
Man, the CGI alone is worth the ticket price (in my case download time). Scenes could have been awkward if the technology had not reach this level, and Mowgli's performance is very worth praising because he expressed and acted naturally even though the characters were not there.
Yet, I am somehow less satisfied with the film than I thought I should be. Supposedly comedic scenes were somehow dramatized and were given darker turns, and sometimes they feel hollow and disappointing. Elephants scenes are an example. Not only did the elephants not talk, they didn't attain the sarcastic humor that prevails in the 1967 version. Shere Khan was more violent and evil, thus losing the witty sense of humor, and so did Kaa. Another thing is that the relationship between Mowgli and Baloo was not quite as intimate as the first film. Yes, both characters might not be animated this time, but still a weird decision to have Baloo befriending the man-cub just for honey. Baloo's apparent sacrifice at the end was also omitted. As a result, "Bare Necessities" scene was not as memorable as I thought of, and that's cuz their bond was not well developed yet!
I could go on and pick out more stuff that I disliked during viewing, such as how the film ruined "I Wanna Be Like You" by having a big ape throwing fruits everywhere while monkeys squeaked at the background. The scene should be like how the end-credits depicted (King Louie dancing around in his palace). However, I won't go into that much criticism because its a good film. The CGI's amazing. I love how they gave the wolves more screentime and significance, since they are barely developed in 1967 version. Vultures are cut off, good. The third act is also something I never thought would happen in Jungle Book, providing a deeper message and a more thrilling climax than the predecessor. At the end of the day I won't say I am fully satisfied, but yet I'll say I am decently entertained by the CGI and the overall tone of the story. Besides, is there anything better than listening to "Bare Necessities", "Trust in Me" once more with a little modern mix? Priceless.